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French expression of the day: Coup de soleil

French expression of the day: Coup de soleil
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This week is going to be steamy hot with a lot of sun, and if you live in France you have only recently been able to freely move outside the home. So watch out for sunbeams trying to throw punches at you.

Why do I need to need to know coup de soleil?

Because you may need it in the coming days.

What does it mean?

Coup de soleil literally means ‘hit of sun’. 

But, like the many French expressions that begin with coup, it doesn’t really involve physical violence.

Coup de soleil is what the French call getting a 'sunburn'.

If you ever have suffered a really bad sunburn you will agree that, linguistically, coup de soleil makes sense. Those red burns can sting worse than a good beating.

Unless you're one of those lucky people with a garden or balcony, chances are that, after eight weeks of lockdown, you too are some kind of vampire shade of grey, peering into the sunlight as if it were something alien that could hurt your body.

Which, of course, it can. So here are some ways you use coup de soleil in the coming days;

Tu me passes la crème solaire, s'il te plaît ? Je n'ai pas envie d'attraper un coup de soleil. – Could you pass me the sunscreen, please? I don't want to get a sunburn.

J'ai chopé un énorme coup de soleil sur le front ce week-end. Je n'avais pas mis de crème solaire sur le visage parce que je me disais que ce n'était pas la peine avec le masque.. – I got a major sunburn on my forehead this weekend. I didn't put on sunscreen because I reckoned it didn't really make any difference seeing as I was going to wear a mask anyway.

Attention, tu prends des coups de soleil sur le dos là. – Careful, your back is getting sunburnt.

Other sun-related phrases

You could say tu as la peau brulé – your skin is burnt.

If you're one of those lucky people who don't burn, you're just bronzé – tan.


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